On Richard Dawkins’ Atheism and His Criticisms of the Design Argument

On Richard Dawkins’ Atheism
and His Criticisms of the Design Argument
Kai-man Kwan
[Published: Kai-man Kwan, “On Richard Dawkins’ Atheism and His Criticisms of the Design Argument.” CGST Journal 49 (July 2010), pp. 165-203.]

Introduction: An Evolutionary Biologist Turned the High Priest of Atheism
Richard Dawkins is Reader in Zoology in the University of Oxford. He has a good reputation in his field of ethology. In particular, his books The Selfish Gene and The Extended Phenotype have made significant contribution to evolutionary biology, and won him a fame in the 1980s. He is now the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University who is supposed to promote science to the general public. Dawkins is a good communicator, and his books on popular science are rightly acclaimed.
Dawkins has long expressed negative opinions about religion. The perceived threat of creationism has provoked him to write a polemical work The Blind Watchmaker. This work established his status as one of the most prominent contemporary defenders of Darwinism. He not only tried to point out the weaknesses in the arguments of the Creationists, but also heaped scorn on them. Gradually, he became heavily involved in the contemporary science/religion debate. His attention was no longer restricted to the issue of evolution. He also relentlessly advocated the conflict thesis that science and religion were basically incompatible. In recent years, he launched an all-out attack on religion, root and branch. Dawkins has already uttered a number of antireligious statements during his Royal Institution Christmas Lectures. In a two-part series The Root of All Evil? on Channel 4, which was shown in Jan 2006, Dawkins argued that religion is not only irrational, but also positively evil and harmful. In 2006 he published the God Delusion, which summarized his case against religion, and for a kind of in-your-face atheism. Since he is so passionate about his own atheistic position and is so zealous to propagate it, he can be called the high priest of atheism. In this paper, I will examine Dawkins’s atheistic naturalism with a special focus on his criticisms of the design argument. His God Delusion will be extensively quoted (with the book title abbreviated as GD).[1]

Exposition of Dawkins’ Atheism
Dawkins’s Position: Atheistic Scientific Naturalism
Dawkins writes, “to be an atheist is a realistic aspiration, and a brave and splendid one. You can be an atheist who is happy, balanced, moral, and intellectually fulfilled” (GD, p. 1). For him, religion is basically a delusion, which is defined as “a persistent false belief held in the face of strong contradictory evidence, especially as a symptom of psychiatric dis­order” (GD, p. 5).  Dawkins defines the God Hypothesis in this way: “there exists a super­human, supernatural intelligence who deliberately designed and created the universe and everything in it, including us” (GD, p. 31).

Dawkins’ atheism is radical: “I am attacking God, all gods, anything and everything supernatural, wherever and whenever they have been or will be invented” (GD, p. 36). This follows from his metaphysical position of scientific naturalism: there is “only one kind of stuff in the universe and it is physical, out of this stuff come minds, beauty, emotions, moral values... Human thoughts and emotions emerge from exceedingly com­plex interconnections of physical entities within the brain. An atheist in this sense of philosophical naturalist is somebody who believes there is nothing beyond the natural, physical world, no supernatural creative intelligence lurking behind the observable universe, no soul that outlasts the body and no miracles” (GD, p. 14).

Although Dawkins admits he cannot strictly disprove the existence of God, he believes that “we can say something pretty strong about the probability” (GD, p. 48), and this is “very low” (although short of zero). This already justifies Dawkins being a De facto atheist: “I cannot know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there” (GD, pp. 50-51).

Dawkins on the Complementarity of Science and Religion
One common reply to Dawkins is that he is mistaken by confusing science and religion: they in fact belong to different domains which do not overlap. It means that we cannot use science to support religion but they cannot come into conflict either. Even an atheist like Stephen Jay Gould is happy to espouse the principle of NOMA (non-overlapping magisteria): “To say it for all my colleagues and for the umpteenth millionth time (from college bull sessions to learned treatises): science simply cannot (by its legitimate methods) adjudicate the issue of God's possible superintendence of nature. We neither affirm nor deny it; we simply can't comment on it as scientists.” Dawkins strongly disagrees with this kind of reconciliatory move:  “Despite the confident, almost bullying, tone of Gould's assertion, what, actually, is the justification for it? Why shouldn't we comment on God, as scientists?” (GD, p. 55)

Martin Rees, a distinguished Cambridge astronomer, is also taken to task by Dawkins because Rees raises two ultimate questions and then gives a NOMA-friendly answer: “The pre-eminent mystery is why anything exists at all. What breathes life into the equations, and actualized them in a real cosmos? Such questions lie beyond science, however: they are the province of philosophers and theologians.” Dawkins has only contempt for this kind of attitude: “I would prefer to say that if indeed they lie beyond science, they most certainly lie beyond the province of theologians as well” (GD, pp. 55-56).

Dawkins explains, “What on Earth is a why question? … Some questions simply do not deserve an answer. … Nor, even if the question is a real one, does the fact that science cannot answer it imply that religion can” (GD, p. 56). Dawkins thinks that religion is also a scientific theory (only a very bad one): “The presence or absence of a creative super-intelligence is unequivocally a scientific question... So also is the truth or falsehood of every one of the miracle stories that religions rely upon to impress multi­tudes of the faithful… The methods we should use to settle the matter, in the unlikely event that relevant evidence ever became available, would be purely and entirely scientific methods” (GD, p. 59).

If so, then science and religion can indeed come into conflict, e.g., the conflict of design and evolution: the hypothesis of ultimate design, and …: gradual evolution … are close to being irreconcilably different. Like nothing else evolution really does provide an explanation for the existence of entities whose improbability would otherwise, for practical purposes, rule them out” (GD, p. 61).

So science and religion are competitors. Indeed, they are gladiators who must fight to the very end, and only one of them can leave alive. For Dawkins, rationally speaking, the victor no doubt is science. Unfortunately, as a matter of fact, perhaps due to misfiring of some Darwinian mechanisms, religion, like a mental virus, not only persists, but also flourishes and proliferates. That is why Dawkins calls religion an “unworthy but powerful opponent.” No wonder Dawkins also feels angry about this terrible situation. This may explain his vehement attack on religion.

Dawkins’ Attack on Religion and Theology
For Dawkins, religion is just wasteful and extravagant: “Religion devours resources, sometimes on a massive scale. A medieval cathedral could consume a hundred man-centuries in its construction, yet was never used as a dwelling, or for any recognizably useful purpose” (GD, p. 164). For religious studies and theology, he has nothing but contempt: “The notion that religion is a proper field, in which one might claim expertise, is one that should not go unquestioned” (GD, p. 16). In 1993, Cambridge University was planning to establish the Starbridge Lectureship in Theology and Natural Science with the endowment made by the author Susan Howatch. Dawkins protested in a letter to The Independent (20 Mar 1993): "the achievements of theologians dont' do anything, don't affect anything, don't achieve anything, don't even mean anything. What makes you think that 'theology' is a subject at all?"[2]

Besides intellectually vacuous, religion is also morally pernicious. For example, the “God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully" (GD, p. 31). Since Yahweh is such an evil monster, Dawkins is surprised to see that people today should base their lives on such an appalling role model (GD, p. 248).

Dawkins on God, Evolution and Design
In contrast with those atheists who dismiss the argument from design, Dawkins is keenly aware of the immensity of the problem of explaining biological design. He points out that there are “perhaps ten million species, each one of which independently dis­plays a powerful illusion of apparent design” (GD, p. 139). He even concedes a certain degree of plausibility to Paley’s argument from design: “Creationist 'logic' is always the same. Some natural phenomenon is too statistically improbable, too complex, too beautiful, too awe-inspiring to have come into existence by chance. Design is the only alternative to chance... Therefore a designer must have done it” (GD, p. 121). In fact he agrees that “Chance is not a solution, given the high levels of improbability we see in living organisms” (GD, p. 119). However, the argument from design still fails due to two reasons. First, “the candidate solutions to the riddle of improbability are not, as is falsely implied, design and chance. They are design and natural selection” (GD, p. 119). Since natural selection can adequately explain all the apparent design in the biological world, the design hypothesis is unnecessary. Second, the design “solution” is not a genuine solution because it initiates a regress of solution. This point does not only serve as a defeater of the design argument, but also provides an independent argument against the existence of God.
Let us examine Dawkins’s claims about natural selection first. “Unfortunately for Paley, the mature Darwin blew it out of the water. There has probably never been a more devastating rout of popular belief by clever reasoning than Charles Darwin's destruction of the argument from design… it is no longer true to say that nothing that we know looks designed unless it is designed. Evolution by natural selection produces an excellent simulacrum of design, mounting prodigious heights of complexity and elegance” (GD, p. 79).
For Dawkins, natural selection is a “blind, unconscious, automatic process”. It “has no purpose in mind. It has no mind and no mind's eye. It does not plan for the future. It has no vision, no foresight, no sight at all. If it can be said to play the role of watchmaker in nature, it is the blind watchmaker” (BWM, p. 5). Despite being blind, natural selection can help us escape from chance because “natural selection is a cumula­tive process, which breaks the problem of improbability up into small pieces. Each of the small pieces is slightly improbable, but not prohibitively so. When large numbers of these slightly improbable events are stacked up in series, the end product of the accumulation is very very improbable indeed” (GD, p. 121).
In Dawkins’ Climbing Mount Improbable, he “expressed the point in a parable. One side of the mountain is a sheer cliff, impossible to climb, but on the other side is a gentle slope to the summit. On the summit sits a complex device such as an eye or a bacterial flagellar motor. The absurd notion that such complexity could spontaneously self-assemble is symbolized by leaping from the foot of the cliff to the top in one bound. Evolution, by contrast, goes around the back of the mountain and creeps up the gentle slope to the summit: easy!” (GD, pp. 121-122)
Dawkins also claims that “design is not a real alternative at all because it raises an even bigger problem than it solves: who designed the designer?” (GD, p. 121). He argues that "any God capable of intelligently designing something as complex as the DNA/protein machine must have been at least as complex and organized as that machine itself...  To explain the origin of the DNA/protein machine by invoking a supernatural Designer is to explain precisely nothing, for it leaves unexplained the origin of the Designer" (BWM, p. 141). Then he presses the above logic to an atheistic conclusion: “A designer God cannot be used to explain organized complexity because any God capable of designing anything would have to be complex enough to demand the same kind of explanation in his own right. God presents an infinite regress from which he cannot help us to escape. This argu­ment … demonstrates that God … is very very improbable indeed” (GD, p. 109).

Dawkins does not only think that the problem lies with the idea of design. In fact, when we unpack the God hypothesis, we can see that the existence of God is improbable in its own right: A “God who is capable of send­ing intelligible signals to millions of people simultaneously, and of receiving messages from all of them simultaneously, cannot be, whatever else he might be, simple. Such bandwidth! God may not have a brain made of neurones, or a CPU made of silicon, but if he has the powers attributed to him he must have something far more elaborately and non-randomly constructed than the largest brain or the largest computer we know” (GD, p. 154).
Once we postulate a God which has the capacity to control the material universe or to hear prayers (capacities which no theist will deny to God), Dawkins will immediately shout, “Very very improbable!” In fact, he argues that even our world were the product of some kind of alien or even superhuman designers, his faith in Darwinian naturalism will not be shaken one bit.
“Science-fiction authors…  have even suggested (and I cannot think how to disprove it) that we live in a computer simulation, set up by some vastly superior civilization. But the simulators themselves would have to come from some­where. The laws of probability forbid all notions of their spontaneously appearing without simpler antecedents. They prob­ably owe their existence to a (perhaps unfamiliar) version of Darwinian evolution” (GD, p. 73)

“It may even be a superhuman designer -but, if so, it will most certainly not be a designer who just popped into existence, or who always existed. If (which I don't believe for a moment) our universe was designed, and a fortiori if the designer reads our thoughts and hands out omniscient advice, forgiveness and redemption, the designer himself must be the end product of some kind of cumulative escalator or crane, perhaps a version of Darwinism in another universe” (GD, p. 156).
Note the use of “must be” above. So there seems to be a kind of rational necessity to the Darwinian worldview: “Darwinian natural selection is the only known solution to the otherwise un­answerable riddle of where the information comes from” (GD, p. 114). If Dawkins’ argument is correct, we have to believe in the ultimacy of the Darwinian process as the source of information or design, in this universe or another. This flatly contradicts and amounts to a disproof of traditional theism.

Dawkins is aware of the fact that natural selection cannot be used to explain the origin of life simply because before the emergence of the first self-replicating system, the mechanism of natural selection is not applicable. His solution is to appeal to the anthropic principle and the magic of large numbers. He argues that since the  “origin of life only had to happen once”, “we therefore can allow it to have been an extremely improbable event” (GD, p. 135). Furthermore, the anthropic principle, which argues that the world we inhabit has to be one conducive to the emergence of life: “It provides a rational, design-free explan­ation for the fact that we find ourselves in a situation propitious to our existence” (GD, p. 136).

He admits that “the spontaneous arising by chance of the first hereditary molecule strikes many as improbable. Maybe it is - very very improbable…however improbable the origin of life might be, we know it happened on Earth because we are here…  Scientists invoke the magic of large numbers… a billion billion is a conservative estimate of the number of available planets in the universe” (GD, p. 137). Suppose the spontaneous arising of something equivalent to DNA occurs on only one in a billion planets: “even with such absurdly long odds, life will still have arisen on a billion planets… the beauty of the anthropic principle is that it tells us, against all intuition, that a chemical model need only predict that life will arise on one planet in a billion billion to give us a good and entirely satisfying explanation for the presence of life here. I do not for a moment believe the origin of life was anywhere near so improbable in practice” (GD, p. 138).

Of course, in the history of evolution on earth, besides the origin of life, there were also other similarly improbable events. For example, “Mark Ridley… has suggested that the origin of the eucaryotic cell (our kind of cell, with a nucleus and various other complicated features such as mitochondria, which are not present in bacteria) was an even more momentous, difficult and statistically improbable step than the origin of life. The origin of consciousness might be another major gap whose bridging was of the same order of improbability.” However, Dawkins is convinced that one-off events like this can also be explained by the anthropic principle as above: “There are billions of planets that have developed life at the level of bacteria, but only a fraction of these life forms ever made it across the gap to something like the eucaryotic cell. And of these, a yet smaller fraction managed to cross the later Rubicon to consciousness… The anthropic principle states that, since we are alive, eucaryotic and conscious, our planet has to be one of the intensely rare planets that has bridged all three gaps” (GD, p. 140-141).

Dawkins in fact has another way to deal with the difficulty of chemical evolution. In his The Blind Watchmaker, he explains various naturalistic theories of the origin of life. Then he asks, "Do you find both Cairns-Smith's theory of origin of life, and the more orthodox organic primeval- soup theory, wildly improbable?...  Well, at times it does to me too" (BWM, p. 158).  However, this apparent improbability is a virtue of evolution: "we should... be worried if the origin of life did not seem miraculous to our own human consciousness.  An apparently (to ordinary human consciousness) miraculously theory is exactly the kind of theory we should be looking for in this particular matter" (BWM, p. 159). 

This surprising conclusion is supported by the following argument. Firstly, our brains are evolved by natural selection from our ancestors.  "Presumably there was no need for our ancestors to cope with sizes and times outside the narrow range of everyday particularity, so our brains never evolved the capacity to imagine them."  So "what we can imagine as plausible is a narrow band in the middle of a much broader spectrum of what is actually possible" (BWM, p. 160).  For similar reasons, our estimates of improbability is only "suitable for creatures with a lifetime of less than one century...  Our subjective judgment of what seems like a good bet is irrelevant to what is actually a good bet” (BWM, p. 161).   So it's not surprising that we would regard theories about origin of life as improbable because this event occurred only once in a billion years.

Secondly, "the subjective judgment of an alien with a lifetime of a million centuries would be quite different.  He will judge as quite plausible an event, such as the origin of the first replicating molecule as postulated by some chemist's theory" (BWM, p.162), and this viewpoint is the right one for looking at theories of origin of life.  So if a theory is too "plausible" to us, it's not the kind of theory we need.  "Seen in this light, both Cairns-Smith's theory and the primeval-soup theory seem if anything in danger of erring on the side of being too plausible!" (BWM, p. 165). The above explanation of the apparent improbability of chemical evolution no longer features prominently in his God Delusion. However, he stills maintains: “Of all the apparent gaps in the evolutionary story, the origin of life gap can seem unbridgeable to brains calibrated to assess likelihood and risk on an everyday scale” (GD, p. 139).

Critique of Dawkins’ Atheism
Dawkins’ moral attack on religion (theistic religions in particular) is a very old one, and has occupied an important place in the Enlightenment critique of religion. However, since a lot of people have already made an excellent reply to Dawkins on this point (Poole 1994; Ward 2006), I want to focus in this paper on his “scientific” criticisms of religion.

Has Dawkins Refuted the Complementarity of Science and Religion?
British critics of Dawkins usually adopt a rather reconciliatory approach. (Of course it still does not satisfy Dawkins who demands nothing other than unconditional surrender.) For example, both Alister McGrath and Michael Poole are contented to point out that the option of theistic evolution cannot be ruled out. They do not dispute the whole Darwinian story, and even concede methodological naturalism. They grant science full authority and autonomy in its own sphere, and do not propose any God-of-the-gaps. They only contend that God can make use of the mechanism of natural selection to create organisms- this belief cannot be proved but no one has demonstrated its falsity either.

I find Poole’s discussions quite lucid. I’ll examine his debate with Dawkins below. First, in response to Dawkins’s insistent question 'But who designed the divine creator?', Poole points out that “Dawkins' constant assumption … is that since our common experience indicates that material objects have beginnings, God would also have had to have had an originator. In that sense, the 'god' in whom Dawkins disbelieves is a 'god' in whom the major world religions, Christianity, Judaism and Islam do not believe either” (Poole 1994). This shows that Dawkins has no proper understanding of religion.

Another major mistake of Dawkins is his failure to appreciate the co-existence of different levels of explanation: “The concept of explanation is more multifaceted than Dawkins appears to recognise. To explain something is to make it plain and there are various ways of doing this. …  there is no logical conflict between reason - giving explanations which concern mechanisms, and reason - giving explanations which concern the plans and purposes of an agent, human or divine. … Dawkins … fails to acknowledge that there is no logical contradiction between the claim that living things are the outcome of evolution by natural selection and that they could also be the outcome of the plan and purposes of an agent God” (Poole 1994).
Poole is also clear that he rejects 'God - of - the - gaps' which accords 'god' the status of being the same type of explanation as a scientific one, and accepts methodological naturalism in science: “the scientific enterprise is based on a belief that gaps can be filled - but with scientific explanations, not with talk 'about' God. So there is a restricted sense in which it is true to say that science has no need for God, that talk about God is unnecessary in science. ... But that does not justify any scientist in claiming that the methodological decision to be silent about God means that science has disproved God!” (Poole 1994)
So the “existence of evolutionary mechanisms modifies the form of Paley's claims, but it does not eliminate all idea of design. For instance, one argument favoured by Darwin was that the laws of nature were themselves designed. … What is touched by this doctrine [of Evolution] is not the evidence of design but the mode in which the design was executed.. . In the one case the Creator made the animals at once such as they now are; in the other case He impressed on certain particles of matter ... such inherent powers that in the ordinary course of time living creatures such as the present were developed ... He did not make the things, we may say; no, but He made them make themselves” (Poole 1994).
Poole also points out Dawkins himself has talked about “design through natural selection”: “in the second of the Christmas Lectures, … he referred en passant to the work of 'Ingo Rechenberg from Germany ... [who] …. designs his windmills by a kind of natural selection.'  … randomising certain key parameters and then selecting aerofoil sections according to desired outcomes. This double process of chance + selection is employed by a purposive, intelligent agent... So any claim that chance/random variations + selection is necessarily incompatible with the actions of an intelligent, purposive agent, human or divine, is falsified by exemplars like these (Poole 1994).
In his reply to Poole, Dawkins has no specific arguments                                                                                                                                                                                  against theistic evolution. In his latest book, he does have a short argument against it: “I am continually astonished by those theists who … seem to rejoice in natural selection as 'God's way of achieving his creation'. They note that evolution by natural selection would be a very easy and neat way to achieve a world full of life. God wouldn't need to do anything at all! Peter Atkins, in the book just mentioned, takes this line of thought to a sensibly godless conclusion when he postulates a hypothetically lazy God who tries to get away with as little as possible in order to make a universe containing life...  Step by step, Atkins succeeds in reducing the amount of work the lazy God has to do until he finally ends up doing nothing at all: he might as well not bother to exist” (GD, p. 118).
To me, this hardly amounts to a refutation of theistic evolution. For Dawkins, this God is “lazy” but for the theistic evolutionists, God’s refraining from the use of a miraculous way to create life just shows His patient love and respect for the integrity of creation. There is also a case to say that God is even wiser for being able to make a universe which can make wonderful things like life automatically.[3] As for Atkins’ attempt to show that there is no useful work for God to do at all, I cannot see how this serves as a rebuttal of theistic evolution. Theistic evolutionists usually hold that they believe in God on faith, and not because God can be used to explain this or that (not to mention the possible problems with Atkins, as Ward has argued in his God, Chance and Necessity).
In a debate with Francis Collins arranged by Time, Collins also articulates a version of theistic evolution.[4] Then Dawkins voices this objection: “I think that's a tremendous cop-out. If God wanted to create life and create humans, it would be slightly odd that he should choose the extraordinarily roundabout way of waiting for 10 billion years before life got started and then waiting for another 4 billion years until you got human beings.”
In reply, Collins says, “Who are we to say that that was an odd way to do it? ... If it suits him to be a deity that we must seek without being forced to, would it not have been sensible for him to use the mechanism of evolution without posting obvious road signs to reveal his role in creation?” The use of the phrase “cop-out” or the allegation of oddity seem to express Dawkins’ personal dissatisfaction rather than substantial objections. Waiting for billion years may seem inordinately long for a human being which usually lives less than a hundred years. However, does it really matter to an eternal God whether it takes 7 days or 7 billion years to create the universe? Hong Kong people like to walk very fast compared to people in a small town in Britain. We might as well ask those people why they don’t walk as fast as they can. Of course, this silly question only reflects our narrow perspective. Moreover, suppose God creates the whole world in 7 days. We can still ask, “Since God is omnipotent, why can’t He do a more efficient job and create the world in 7 seconds or 0.0000000000000007 second?”
Let us come back to Dawkins’ more general arguments. In his reply to Poole, Dawkins writes, “If God really has a more solid basis than fairies, then let us hear it. ... Either admit that God is a scientific hypothesis and let him submit to the same judgement as any other scientific hypothesis. Or admit that his status is no higher than that of fairies and river sprites” (Dawkins 1995). Poole replies in turn, “Dawkins' alternatives… both caricature a serious matter and coerce into an unnecessary either/or. It is perfectly possible both to reject the notion that 'God is a scientific hypothesis' and to reject the claim that God's 'status is no higher than that of fairies and river sprites'” (Poole 1995). He then challenges Dawkins to spell out his criteria for differentiating between science and non- science.

In God Delusion, Dawkins continues to defend his understanding of religion as a scientific theory. I think he has rightly pointed out that the existence of God and many other claims by religion, especially an historical religion like Christianity (for example, the resurrection of Jesus), are factual claims which in principle admit of answers. I agree with him that an extreme version of NOMA is indefensible. Science and religion do come into contact at some points. However, it does not then follow that all religious claims belong to a scientific theory, and that on all levels, science and religion are rival explanations of our world. It is easy for Dawkins to make this illicit move only because he assumes that all factual claims can in principle be determined by science. Despite his protest, Dawkins is a proponent of scientism. For example, it is mistaken to say that the 'hypothesis of God' as an explanatory hypothesis is in competition with evolution by natural selection because “God and natural selection are, after all, the only two workable theories we have of why we exist” (EP, p. 181). Dawkins’s mistake derives mainly from his failure to understand the God hypothesis can be spelt out in different ways: special creationism, progressive creationism, and theistic evolution (or a mixture of these options). There are not only two theories but in fact a multitude, and the relationship among them is complicated. Dawkins’ simplistic analysis just won’t do. While special creationism and progressive creationism (to a lesser extent) are in competition with evolution by natural selection, theistic evolution is not.

So the existence of God, considered in itself, is a factual claim but it is not on the same level as other scientific claims. It should be compared to scientific naturalism: both are grand theories and worldviews which purport to provide a perspective from which everything is to be explained and interpreted. Since this kind of factual claim is so different from ordinary scientific claims, we cannot just assume, as Dawkins does, the criteria for testing mundane or scientific truth-claims will apply to them. Whether this kind of metaphysical claims can be rationally assessed and, if possible, by what criteria, are hotly debated in philosophy. For example, Poole himself suggests a kind of soft rationalism: “To say, 'If God has a more solid basis than fairies, then let us hear it' conveys the impression that nobody has yet thought or written about Christian evidences! Dawkins has ready access to the whole theological collection of the University of Oxford if he wishes to avail himself of its resources. But evidence for God is not the same as watching intently at the bottom of the garden on a summer's night! (Poole 1995). He also correctly points out that grand theories, be they metaphysical ones like theism or atheism, or physical ones like stellar and organic evolution, can be judged against such criteria as comprehensiveness, consistency, coherence and congruence.

According to this perspective, science and religion are both alike and different. Basil Mitchell has argued that metaphysical or high-level religious claims can be rationally assessed, and this process is akin to the assessment of grand theories in science (Kuhnian paradigms). The argument and evidence considered are necessarily cumulative. Along similar lines, philosophers like Richard Swinburne, Peter Forrest or William Craig have worked out cumulative arguments for the existence of God. Of course, this methodology is controversial but Dawkins seems blissfully unaware of the whole debate. Unless Dawkins provides successful arguments for his scientistic methodology and against the above cumulative argument approach, we have to conclude that the case for the complementarity of science and religion (as qualified above) still stands.

Has Dawkins Disproved God?
For Dawkins, Darwinism has achieved what centuries of atheists have failed to do: “Darwinism not only renders God unnecessary as an explanatory device... God is also shown to be very very improbable indeed, for exactly the same reason as the spontaneous arising of the vertebrate eye is improbable” (Dawkins 1995). The argument can be formulated this way:
(P1) There are only three ways for God to come into being: chance, deliberate design, or evolution by gradual, cumulative degrees, guided by natural selection of random variation.
(P2)  Since God is by definition capable of designing a universe (and incidentally capable of forgiving sins, impregnating virgins etc.), He would have to be very complex.
(P3) God coming into being by chance is very improbable because of His complexity.
(P4) If God comes into being by deliberate design, the designer of God in turn needs to be designed, because that God-designer would have to be at least as complex as God. The God-designer would in turn requires another God-designer-designer, ad infinitum. This would generate an infinite regress of God-designers.
(P5) Since an infinite regress of God-designers is unacceptable, improbable or problematic, the design option is unacceptable.
(P6) If God evolved to his awesome complexity by slow, gradual degrees, it needs another universe in which to operate. Since this hypothesis is deeply unsatisfactory for religious people, it is also unacceptable.
So the conclusion is that:
(C) The existence of God is either very very improbable or unacceptable.

This argument is hardly convincing. The conclusion can be interpreted in two different ways. Either the improbability is attributed to the “coming into being of God” or to “an eternal God who has always existed.” Consider Dawkins’s saying: “God is also shown to be very improbable indeed, for exactly the same reason as the spontaneous arising of the vertebrate eye is improbable.” Elsewhere when he discusses possible aliens of a “vastly superior civilization”, he talks about the “laws of probability forbid all notions of their spontaneously appearing without simpler antecedents” (GD, p. 73; italics mine).
So it seems that Dawkins is having the “coming into being of God” in mind when he asserts those improbability claims. On this interpretation the premises of the above argument at least have some initial plausibility but then the conclusion he can draw is only that the coming into being of God or the spontaneous arising of God without simpler antecedents is very very improbable or unacceptable. The problem is that religious people will just shrug their shoulders and say, “Mr. Dawkins, I agree with your conclusion but the God you disprove is not the God I am believing in. What I mean by God is an immaterial mind who is self-existent, all-powerful, all-knowing and all-good.” When Dawkins discusses the possibility of “a superhuman designer”, he just asserts without argument that “it will most certainly not be a designer who just popped into existence, or who always existed” (GD, p. 156; the second italics added by me). He seems to lump the two cases together but in fact they are very different: while a God who just popped into existence is indeed deeply puzzling and hardly a suitable object for worship, a God who has always existed does not lead to similar problems.

Dawkins anticipates such a reply: " You have to say something like 'God was always there', and if you will allow yourself that kind of lazy way out, you might as well just say 'DNA was always there', or 'Life was always there', and be done with it" (BWM, p.141). Well, postulation of eternal existence is not exactly a lazy way out (it just shows that Dawkins has not really thought through the issues), because both theists and naturalists (on the whole) believe in something eternal: the former in a self-existent God and the latter in the eternal universe.[5] The idea that something just pops into existence out of absolute nothing is abhorred by the rational mind. Nothing comes from nothing. That is why the Big Bang has been embarrassing for many thoughtful naturalists. Where does all those stuff and energy come from? Atheists like Fred Hoyle strenuously resisted the Big Bang Theory and suggested the Steady State Theory to avoid this problem. Stephen Hawking postulates a quantum gravity model to eliminate the singularity. Other naturalists believe that an eternal series of universes have existed before this Big Bang. Still other naturalists bite the bullet and say that our universe really pops into existence from nowhere, for no reason at all, but even they will always provide an explanation why it is not a problem in the unique case of Big Bang, etc. I am not sure where Dawkins stands on this issue but his suggestion that the postulation of eternal existence is not intellectually respectable would not even be accepted by many of his fellow naturalists.

Moreover, his “eternal DNA” rebuttal cannot in fact save his disproof of God. Perhaps just for the sake of the argument, let us grant that both the self-existence of God and DNA (or life) are in principle acceptable. So Dawkins can believe in the self-existent DNA and a theist can believe in a self-existent God. Neither side can prove the other side wrong, but then it follows that Dawkins’ disproof of God has failed. Moreover, the two sides are not really symmetric. While it is natural for a theist to believe in a self-existent God, it would be odd for a naturalist to believe in the self-existent DNA. Given our current understanding of the cosmic process, it is rather impossible to believe some celestial DNA can exist in the hot Big Bang, not to say it has always existed.  I don't think Dawkins is really advocating this thesis.
I am not saying that we cannot argue about self-existent beings, and try to judge what kinds of self-existent beings are worthy of believing in. In fact many versions of cosmological argument are doing this. However, this would typically involve principles of sufficient reason, judgements of prior probability in the framework of Bayes’ Theorem, and principles of explanation which are all controversial. I doubt that Dawkins can show on these grounds that the existence of an eternal God is very improbable. In any case, Dawkins has not provided such an argument.
In fact my inclination is to think that once we allow these sorts of metaphysical considerations, there is a good case for the self-existent and perfect God being the natural terminus of explanation. As Ward argues, "The concept of God is simple in this sense.  It is the idea of just one basis of all possible finite beings, which originates all other realities for good reasons, and realises the highest compossible set of values in itself.  It is thus the simplest possible and most all-inclusive integrating concept.  If it is ... self-explanatory, then it will answer the question 'Why does it exist?' in the most adequate possible way; by showing that it is of supreme value, and that it is wholly intelligible.  God is not, as Dawkins supposes, a complex reality, as though God was rather like a human mind, made up of lots of disconnected thoughts, plans, desires and feelings.  God is simple in a very special sense, as being the one self-explanatory and supremely integrating reality.  God can explain why the laws of nature exist as they do ...  God is not just an arbitrary additional entity, but the purest sort of unity, which includes and unites all possible complexity within itself" (Ward 1996, p. 112).
Ward is directly challenging Dawkins’s premise (P2) above. As I argue above, even if we leave this premise unchallenged, Dawkins’s disproof will not succeed. However, Dawkins can still argue that (P2) will help to demolish the design argument. Let us now examine these issues.

Has Dawkins Demolished the Design Argument?
Dawkins claims that Darwin has dealt a fatal blow to Paley’s design argument which begins with the quest for the explanation of organized complexity in life. His exposition in different circumstances, while on the whole similar, are also subject to different interpretations. I’ll explore these arguments and examine critically their adequacy.

Dawkins says, “To explain the origin of the DNA/protein machine by invoking a supernatural Designer is to explain precisely nothing for it leaves unexplained the origin of the Designer" (BWM, p. 141). These sentences express a very common objection to the postulation of God but note that if it is Dawkins’ argument against God, whether God is as complex as life is in fact irrelevant.[6] One possible reconstruction of this argument is as follows:

A) If we use A to explain B, the purported explanation is legitimate only if A is not in turn left unexplained.
B) If we use God to explain life, the origin of God itself is left unexplained.
C) Hence, the purported God-explanation of life is not legitimate.

This sort of argument is popular among atheists but unfortunately it is only a crude argument that can't withstand critical scrutiny. The reasons are legion:

First, (A) entails that Dawkins’ favoured explanation of evolutionary naturalism is also illegitimate because the ultimate natural facts are also left unexplained. As Thomas Nagel, another passionate atheist, points out, “All explanations come to an end somewhere. The real opposition between Dawkins’s physicalist naturalism and the God hypothesis is a disagreement over whether this end point is physical, extensional, and purposeless, or mental, intentional, and purposive. On either view, the ultimate explanation is not itself explained. The God hypothesis does not explain the existence of God, and naturalistic physicalism does not explain the laws of physics” (Nagel 2006, p. 26).

As Ratzsch pointedly says, if Dawkins is assuming (A), "that principle is surely as dangerous for the naturalist as for the theist.  To take the parallel case, one could claim that to explain the origin of species by invoking natural processes is to explain precisely nothing, for it leaves unexplained the origin of natural processes.  Of course, attempts to explain natural processes by invoking the big bang- or anything else- will generate an exactly similar problem with anything appealed to in that explanation." Then he judiciously concludes, "Any explanation has to begin somewhere, and the principle that no explanation is legitimate unless anything referred to in the explanation is itself explained immediately generates a regress that would effectively destroy any possibility of any explanation for anything" (Ratzsch, p.192).

The above is a kind of Humean argument but interestingly Hume also puts this retort in the mouth of Cleanthes: "Even in common life, if I assign a cause for any event; is it any objection ... that I cannot assign a cause of that cause, and answer every new question, which may incessantly be started?" (Hume, p. 163). Swinburne also produces good counter-examples to (A). Suppose a person leaves a casino with a large sum of money. The explanation given is that he has placed a big bet on number 10 on the roulette, and the spinning of the roulette did turn up the number 10. This fact can be used readily to explain the person’s fortune despite we have no idea how to explain why the roulette turned up the number 10 (Swinburne 1968).

So how do we in fact proceed with our explanation? As Ferre suggests, we seek explanation as far as it goes, and as long as each step is warranted by evidence and proper inferential rules: "As long as an actual uniformity in experience underlies the explanation and as long as this uniformity helps to bring the sheer multiplicity of things to some kind of intelligible relation, the Empiricist is content.  Taking one step rather than none, if adequately justified by the evidence, is not futile but the only way that knowledge may be expected to advance." (Ferre, pp. 164-65). The plausibility of the design hypothesis lies in the fact that our uniform experience provides some support for the connection of organized complexity with an intelligent mind rather than blind matter. The fact that the explanation postulates an as yet unexplained fact is just not relevant. Even if natural selection were to provide a totally adequate alternative explanation, the legitimacy of the design hypothesis still cannot be gainsaid. So Argument 1 does not succeed.

This is another key passage from Dawkins: “A designer God cannot be used to explain organized complexity because any God capable of designing anything would have to be complex enough to demand the same kind of explanation in his own right. God presents an infinite regress from which he cannot help us to escape” (GD, p. 109). So perhaps what troubles Dawkins is not the mere fact that God is unexplained but the alleged fact that God has the same degree of complexity which is unexplained.  Let us formulate this argument as below:

D) God is supposed to design life and engineer all organized complexity in the world.
E) Any being capable of doing this is at least as complex as life and the organized complexity engineered.
F) Hence, God is at least as complex as life.
G) It is not legitimate to postulate A to explain B's organized complexity if A is at least as complex as B.
H) Hence, it is not legitimate to postulate God to explain life. 

The premise (D) will not be disputed. (F) follows logically from (D) and (E), and (H) from (F) and (G). So only the premises (E) and (G) need to be critically assessed.

Consider (E) first. Why should we think that God is at least as complex as life? In fact it is not at all clear what are Dawkins’s arguments here. They mainly consist of assertions. Usually Dawkins first depicts God’s capacity (as graphically as possible), and then jumps to the conclusion that God must be complex. This is one example: “A God capable of con­tinuously monitoring and controlling the individual status of every particle in the universe cannot be simple” (GD, p. 149).

The transition from immense capacity or power to immense complexity seems entirely obvious to Dawkins but I, for one, do not think it is self-evident, and would like Dawkins to provide an argument for this crucial step. The last sentence of the quote above may give us some clues. Based on models of embodied minds, Dawkins conceives of God as a kind of super-organism which has to have some kind of super-brain. However, this conception has no logical necessity, and only reflects the firm grasp of naturalism on Dawkins’ mind.

Nagel, although he is an atheist, grasps the problem with Dawkins’ argument very clearly: this argument “depends … on a misunderstanding of the conclusion of the argument from design... If the argument is supposed to show that a supremely adept and intelligent natural being, with a super-body and a super-brain, is responsible for the design and the creation of life on earth, then of course this “explanation” is no advance on the phenomenon to be explained…  The reason that we are led to the hypothesis of a designer by considering both the watch and the eye is that these are complex physical structures that carry out a complex function, and we cannot see how they could have come into existence out of unorganized matter purely on the basis of the purposeless laws of physics…  But God, whatever he may be, is not a complex physical inhabitant of the natural world. The explanation of his existence as a chance concatenation of atoms is not a possibility for which we must find an alternative, because that is not what anybody means by God. If the God hypothesis makes sense at all, it offers a different kind of explanation from those of physical science: purpose or intention of a mind without a body, capable nevertheless of creating and forming the entire physical world. The point of the hypothesis is to claim that not all explanation is physical, and that there is a mental, purposive, or intentional explanation more fundamental than the basic laws of physics, because it explains even them” (Nagel 2006, p. 26).
Basically, Dawkins’ complaint is that God possesses the same kind of complexity as the complexity of life which calls for explanation. This is the prerequisite for the alleged generation of the vicious infinite regress. This prerequisite, however, is called into question by Nagel. Dawkins says, “the biologist Julian Huxley, in 1912, defined complexity in terms of 'heterogeneity of parts', by which he meant a particular kind of functional indivisibility” (GD, p. 150). Yes, the complexity of life consists of the co-ordination of numerous physical parts in a functioning whole. However, God is one immaterial substance which has no physical parts. So the kind of complexity which calls for explanation in the case of life simply does not exist in God.
Let us now consider (G): “It is not legitimate to postulate A to explain B's organized complexity if A is at least as complex as B.” As it stands, this principle is contradicted by many explanations we deem acceptable. Prof. Ratzsch has provided a good example: “one can properly explain automotive complexity by reference to human beings, human needs, human economic systems and so forth.  And the fact that humans are themselves complex does not in the least render such explanations circular, devoid of explanatory content or anything else of the sort" (Ratzsch, p. 191). In fact, we often postulate more complex beings to explain less complex beings. The application of (G) will simply debar many good mundane design explanations. As a rule, a human being is more complex than an artifact but we often appeal to the former to explain the latter. For example, archaeologists will not hesitate to postulate an as yet unknown primitive tribe to explain the discovery of a stone axe.

Interestingly, Dawkins appears to recognize this kind of examples: “one of the oldest ideas we have: 'the idea that it takes a big fancy smart thing to make a lesser thing. I call that the trickle-down theory of creation. You'll never see a spear making a spear maker…horse shoe making a blacksmith… pot making a potter” (GD, p. 117). Of course, Dawkins is against this trickle-down theory of creation, and wants to defend a kind of hierarchical reductionism. He will probably point out that in the end all those spear makers, blacksmiths and potters have humble origins: they are all made from simple things through a long process of gradual evolution. So ultimately the reverse of trickle-down theory of creation is true: all big fancy smart things are ultimately made from lesser things. However, even if people were ultimately explained by evolution, it does not render the explanation of a pot by the potter illegitimate. So the principle (G) is still not correct.

On the other hand, I am not saying that less complex things cannot explain more complex things. As Collins suggests, “If we gave some human being enough time, it seems possible that she could create artifacts the sum of whose complexity eventually surpassed the human brain itself” (Collins, p. 196). Summing up the above discussions, my tentative suggestion is that when we consider the legitimacy of an explanation of the complexity of B by A, the comparison of degrees of complexity of A and B does not settle the question in either direction.

Although Ratzsch is in general critical of Dawkins, he still concedes that "were someone attempting to explain the ultimate origin of complexity, then obviously appealing to a deity already possessing complexity would indeed be logically corrupt " (Ratzsch, p. 191). I am not so sure about this. If Collins’ suggestion above is sound, “even if God’s mind requires an incredible amount of complexity, its complexity could be far less than that of the universe. It is still possible to think, therefore, that hypothesizing God reduces the total amount of unexplained order” (Collins, p. 196).

Furthermore, if God has the same degree of complexity as that of life, the advantage of taking God as the ultimate origin of complexity may not be obvious, but it is not necessarily “logically corrupt.” Can't we appeal to the existence of energy in one form to explain the same amount of energy in another form, e.g., explaining an explosion by appealing to the latent energy of the chemicals?  Can’t we explain a son's intelligence by his fathers' “intelligent” genes? Can’t we explain the goodness of a daughter by the goodness of her parents? It seems that we often explain the F in B by invoking the same degree of F in A.

Even if God is as complex as life, we may still find the appeal to God’s design has merits. First, it seems more intelligible and more coherent with our experience of our own intellectual activity. The reason why minds can overcome improbability is that “a mind has the ability to ‘search’ through the realm of possibilities and then select that possibility that appears best to meet its goal” (Collins, p. 192). From our own experience, we can see ideas spun out of an intelligent mind can be exceedingly complex. Secondly, God may have other attributes which help us explain other surprising things in the universe. For example, if God exists necessarily, it does give a final answer to the question: “Why is there something rather than nothing?” If God is morally perfect, His nature may explain the origin of the moral imperative or our moral consciousness, and so on.

I conclude that the premises (E) and (G) are both mistaken. At least Dawkins has not provided adequate support for them. His claim that the Darwinian theory has decisively defeated the design argument is far from substantiated.

Has Dawkins Successfully Explained the Origin of Life?
Due to limitations of space, I will not comment on Dawkins’ treatment of natural selection and intelligent design. Even granting the adequacy of natural selection to explain all biological complexity, how to account for the origin of life is still the weakest link in evolutionary naturalism. The reason is simple: to account for biological complexity, natural selection is deemed utterly necessary because even Dawkins admits chance is unable to do the job. However, when naturalists come to explain the first life, he is again left only with chance to work on.

Again Nagel has an admirable discussion of this problem: “But each of the steps involves a mutation in a carrier of genetic information—an enormously complex molecule capable both of self-replication and of generating out of surrounding matter a functioning organism that can house it… we have explained the complexity of organic life in terms of something that is itself just as functionally complex as what we originally set out to explain. So the problem is just pushed back one step: how did such a thing come into existence?... Yet this time we cannot replace chance with natural selection.”

He is also dissatisfied with Dawkins’s solution: “Dawkins recognizes the problem, but his response to it is pure hand-waving...  no one has a theory that would support anything remotely near such a high probability as one in a billion billion. Naturally there is speculation about possible non-biological chemical precursors of DNA or RNA. But at this point the origin of life remains, in light of what is known about the huge size, the extreme specificity, and the exquisite functional precision of the genetic material, a mystery” (Nagel, pp. 27-28).

As for Dawkins’ claim that our sense of improbability cannot be trusted, I have to confess I find his argument totally unconvincing and perverse! True, an apparently improbable theory may be really improbable or not really so.  Grant Dawkins' claim that a true theory of origin should be apparently improbable, it does not follow that this apparently improbable theory is the true one!  It can simply be false! 
His statement that a long-lived alien will find Cairns-Smith's theory plausible is a pure assertion (and wishful thinking).  How can he know the judgment of a brain which is so different from his own?  Is not Dawkins’ brain the same product of natural selection as ours which, he says many times, cannot judge competently the probability of such an event?  How can he, having said that, then assume a superhuman standpoint as if he is superior to all his opponents?  Elsewhere he makes statements about probability of evolution (BWM, p. 146; p.164), and not surprisingly he comes down to its favor. If he is consistent, let he stick to the thesis that we, including himself, can't judge any theory of origin.  In that case he has to abandon any claim that evolution is actually probable.
Dawkins after all has to admit: "We still don't know exactly how natural selection began on Earth" (BWM, p. 165). But he goes on to assert: "the present lack of a definitely accepted account of origin of life should certainly not be taken as a stumbling block for the whole Darwinian world view, as it occasionally- probably with wishful thinking- is" (BWM, p. 166)  I suggest  it's his wishful thinking which prevents him from seeing the fact that absence of a decent account of origin of life definitely counts against the Darwinian worldview.

Dawkins hopes his book will help convert believers to atheism: “If this book works as I intend, religious readers who open it will be atheists when they put it down. What presumptuous optimism! Of course, dyed-in-the-wool faith-heads are immune to argument, their resistance built up over years of childhood indoctrination using methods that took centuries to mature” (GD, p.5). Indeed it is not only presumptuous but also condescending.

I am one of the religious readers who have finished his book but remain as convinced a theist as before. Well, Dawkins’ arguments are just not cogent enough. Dawkins’ self-confidence is amazing. But listen to the verdict of his fellow atheist, an acute philosopher: “the book is a very uneven collection of scriptural ridicule, amateur philosophy, historical and contemporary horror stories, anthropological speculations, and cosmological scientific argument… Dawkins is operating mostly outside the range of his scientific expertise … Dawkins dismisses, with contemptuous flippancy the traditional a priori arguments for the existence of God offered by Aquinas and Anselm. I found these attempts at philosophy, along with those in a later chapter on religion and ethics, particularly weak” (Nagel, p. 25). 

Moreover, Dawkins' theological discussion is as a rule primitive.  Another fellow defender of evolution, Michael Ruse, despite being “pretty much atheistic with respect to the main claims of Christianity: Jesus as the son of God, resurrection, atonement…”, complains, “I have long been irked by Dawkins — as well as philosopher Daniel Dennett, evolutionary biologist William Provine and company — for not knowing the first thing about Christian theology and for not making any effort to know about it… For example, Dawkins has some pretty simplistic views on the problem of evil. Christian theologians are aware of evil as a problem, and they speak to it. Whole books, of which Dawkins seems unaware, have been written on this subject.”[7]

Unfortunately, he has widespread influence and the chance to speak to the youth through mass media. His weak arguments still carry weight for those who are impressed by his authority as a scientist. Dawkins is in fact disseminating his personal world-view of atheistic Darwinian naturalism in the name of science. Though I have argued that his account of religion is one-sided and simplistic, his warnings about the possible harm of religion should be heeded. However, his conflict thesis should be resisted, and scientists and religious believers should work together to bring out the best from both science and religion.

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Collins, Robin. 2005. “Hume, Fine-tuning & the “Who Designed God?” Objection.” In James F. Sennett & Douglas Groothuis, eds., In Defense of Natural Theology: A Post-Humean Assessment (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2005), pp. 175-99.
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Dawkins, Richard. 1989.  The Selfish Gene.  2nd edn.  Oxford University Press.
Dawkins, Richard. 1994. “Virus of  the Mind”, in Challenges to the Enlightenment: In Defense of Reason and Science, edited by Paul Kurtz and Timothy J. Madigan (Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books 1994), pp. 188-207.
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Forrest, Peter. 1996. God without the Supernatural: A Defense of Scientific Theism. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
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McGrath,Alister. 2005. “Has Science eliminated God? Richard Dawkins and the Meaning of Life”, Science and Christian Belief vol. 17 no. 2 (2005): 115-35.
Mitchell, Basil. 1973.      The Justification of Religious Belief. London, New York: Macmillan.
Nagel, Thomas. 2006. "The Fear of Religion. Review of The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins." The New Republic, October 23, 2006, pp. 25-29.
Poole, Michael. 1994. “A Critique of Aspects of the Philosophy and Theology of Richard Dawkins”, Science and Christian Belief vol.6 (April 1994): 41-59.
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Ratzsch, Del. 1996.  The Battle of Beginnings: Why Neither Side is Winning the Creation-Evolution Debate.  IVP.
Swinburne, R.G.   1968.  "The Argument from Design."  Philosophy 43(1968):199-212.
Swinburne, R.G.  1979.  The Existence of God. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 
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[1] Other abbreviations used: BWM - The Blind Watchmaker; SG - The Selfish Gene.
[2] Not all scientists agreed with Dawkins. For example, Max F. Perutz, Nobelist in chemistry in 1962, responded: "Scientists may not believe in God, but they should be taught why they ought to behave as if they did." He preferred a chair in "science and ethics" but "science and theology" was the next best thing to counter "the increasingly prevailing law of the jungle in the scientific world." (The Independent, 22 Mar 1993)
[3] Personally I do not accept theistic evolution. Here I am only trying to say Dawkins cannot rule out that possibility rationally.
[4] “God vs. Science,” Time, Nov 13, 2006.
[5]  Usually atheists argue that since the universe is eternal, it does not need explanation- this usually occurs in the context of the discussion of the cosmological argument.
[6] Perhaps these sentences are not supposed to be taken alone because just preceding them is Dawkins’ complaint about the complexity of God. If so, Dawkins is only advancing the second argument I will discuss later. But it is also possible that Dawkins has both arguments in mind. I hope he can clarify the matter in the future. In any case, the first argument in itself is worth looking at because it is a kind of Humean objection which looks plausible to many. Looking into this argument will help clarify some questions about the criteria of legitimate explanation.
[7]Michael Ruse, “McGrath squares off against ‘Dawkins’ God’”, April 25, 2005,